Believe it or not, I do remember the moment I read the April 1997 issue of the Rolling Stone magazine. I was traveling on business – if you consider government employees’ travel as business – in Newfoundland in Canada. I had just checked in at my hotel in St. John’s and hadn’t had time to finish reading the article on the plane so fighting off the jetlag, I picked up the magazine again.
And this is what I remember: MTV’s trend watchers said that the next big thing would be “good”. Not just a good thing, but that being good, instead of bad, would be the next megatrend in pop. They said they could see signs of the pendulum going from the dangerous Madonnas, and Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” towards artists and movies that represented goodness.
I remember it because it surprised me and because I hoped it to be true. Because I considered myself a good guy, a nice guy, and for once, I also wanted that to mean that I was cool as well.
Now, I’m not sure if I missed something, whether the goodness trend came and went, or came and stayed, but I don’t remember seeing it. The grunge thing sure was over, and the artists coming up around that time were Britney Spears, and, well, Eminem.
The cheerful Friends took over from the more cynical Seinfeld crew. And of course there were Will & Grace, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Very nice and very good.
Lady Diana had become the Queen of Hearts – but then she died.
There was the new Star Wars trilogy, and there was Matrix. And Austin Powers. Good? Bad? (Ugly?)
It’s also been almost twenty years since that story and maybe I just don’t remember what the world was like in 2000, or maybe 9/11 changed things, or … who knows about these things.
What I do know is that I’ve thought about that story and those trend watchers and the goodness trend a lot lately because every day, I vow to delete all my social media accounts because I can’t handle the outrage that’s out there.
I don’t want to be cynical so I tell myself that I’m not, and that instead, maybe – maybe – I’m just skeptical, which is not the same thing. I do believe in people’s good motives, and I do think that we focus too much on the bad stuff, the rage, the anger, the hate, when there is so much goodness, and laughter, and love out there, too.
And then, a few months ago, I got lucky and got to edit the September issue of SAS’s in-flight magazine, Scandinavian Traveler. I can understand if editing an in-flight isn’t your idea of getting lucky, but this particular issue happens to be a theme issue, and the theme is “Good”. So we put together a list of stories of people doing good things in the world, trying to help others, making people laugh, reaching out to others, and making the world a little better in their own way.
Not a difficult task at all. A lot of people are doing a lot of good things in the world, every single day. Every day.
Reading those stories made me want to do something, too, because that, doing good, is what makes life meaningful. And, researching for another project I learned that meaningfulness is key to a good life.
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’,” Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning.
This is all a long way for me to say that I’m happy to have worked with the Good Issue and that I really hope it does inspire somebody somewhere to do something good.
It did inspire me. Maybe it can become a trend?